It’s been a very busy few weeks with Stonewylde activities and new projects, and when I look back to how feeble and incapacitated I was this time last year, I’m so very grateful to have my health back!
Henge Shop, Avebury
First I spent a great day in the Henge Shop in Avebury, signing Stonewylde books and chatting to customers. I love this place – there are some amazing things on sale and I could spend a fortune there! It was one of the very first shops to stock the early, self-published edition of Magus of Stonewylde, which featured Avebury stones on the cover. I had a lovely day there and we sold lots of books; it was really good to meet up with some of my early readers who’d come along especially to say hello and support the event. It was extra lovely to find Lucy Powrie and her mum waiting for me when I arrived! I first met them years ago at a book signing in Swindon, when Lucy was a very shy schoolgirl who’d discovered Stonewylde and loved it. She’s now a famous blogger and runs all sorts of stuff on Twitter – grown up now but still very sweet – great to see her again! Many thanks to Dominique, the owner of the shop, for looking after me so well during the day there.
Crabchurch History Talks
Because of the snow in February and March, some of the events I was booked for had to be postponed. So it was wonderful to finally get down to dear old Weymouth (where I lived for 26 years!) to take part in the re-scheduled Crabchurch History Talks. I’d been invited by Mark Vine to talk about my intended historical novel, set during the time of the Civil War and based on some of the events that happened then around Weymouth, Melcombe Regis and Portland (coined ‘The Crabchurch Conspiracy’ by Mark). This novel has been gestating for several years now and I can’t wait for the labour pains to begin!
I felt slightly fraudulent sharing the stage with none other than the eminent and very wonderful Professor Ronald Hutton, an expert on this period, because much as I love history, I’m no historian. I’ve done a huge amount of research for this novel, and have an entire six foot bookshelf rammed with books to prove it. So I spoke about my ideas – to base the novel on the themes in ‘The Tempest’, with an alchemist father banished from court to the Isle of Portland for his interest in magick and Rosicrucian dabblings. And of course a daughter, and a handsome young man who comes to the island, a strange spirit … you get the idea!
I first met Ronald Hutton several years ago and he was kind enough to review an early draft of Magus of Stonewylde, which he loved! It was great to hear him talk at this event in Weymouth, and also watch Bishop Bray’s performance – a character from the Civil War era who has made the event his own. Well done to Mark Vine for bringing this local history to life in such an exciting way.
Next up was the wonderful annual Moongazy Camp – where hardcore Stonewylde readers meet and have a lovely weekend together in a fantastic campsite near Avebury. We had such a good time – these readers have become firm friends over the years, and there are always new people joining us as well, which is great. My son and partner brought their two little ones along too, and they had a wonderful time. The campsite we use is at Blacklands Lakes, and it’s really beautiful. Indigo especially loves the goats and ducks there!
It’s organised every year by a lovely man known as Swampy, and this year was as fun as ever. It’s all very chilled out and relaxed, with some workshops run by volunteers, a communal barbecue, a campfire, a craft sale … a really fun event, and something I look forward to so much each year. This one was extra special because we now have a camper van! Drax and Digby loved it too – roll on next year’s Moongazy Camp!
I travelled up to Yorkshire to do my postponed World Book Day school visit, which was fun, and also spoke and ran a creative writing workshop at a brilliant school down in Southampton. I really love doing school visits, and have a few more coming up before the summer holidays.
So it’s been a busy old few weeks, and I’m also getting on well with the Stonewylde screenplay. The pilot episode is almost there now (it’s taken much longer than I anticipated – I’d thought it would be easy, adapting a book for the screen, but there’s a lot more to it than I’d imagined) and I’m working on the ‘series bible’. This is the information about the project needed by production companies, so they can make a decision about the series. It contains the logline (and many thanks to all the lovely people who sent in ideas and suggestions – they’re wonderful and I’ll let you know when I’ve finally decided on one), character outlines, a synopsis of the first season, future seasons, etc. I’m almost there!
Rainbow Owls and Nosy Crow
I’m also working on a children’s picture book series called Rainbow Owls – do take a look at the basic website we’ve set up here. www.rainbowowls.com This is such a fun project to do, and with my little grandchildren to help and guide me, I’m hoping to find a publisher for this series soon. I spent a really interesting day last Saturday up in London at the Nosy Crow publisher’s office, attending a workshop on writing picture books. I love Nosy Crow – they publish some great books and I admire their ethos too.
Solstice Picnic at Devil’s Punchbowl
Next Sunday, we’re meeting up with a group of Stonewylde readers at the Devil’s Punchbowl in the Surrey Hills for a Solstice picnic and a walk. It’s such a beautiful place – I absolutely love it there. If any readers of this blog would like to pop along and join us, please do – the more the merrier! Full details on the Stonewylde Appreciation Society events page on Facebook and here on this website.
Right, signing off now as I need to make some cupcakes for my little granddaughter’s 3rd birthday tomorrow. And get on with writing the bible. On that note …